Doherty expert agrees Delta strain could push NSW hospitalisations higher than initially thought
A health expert agrees updated knowledge on the Delta strain’s virulence means NSW hospitalisations could push much higher than initially thought.
Doherty Institute director of epidemiology Jodie McVernon on Thursday told a NSW parliamentary inquiry that new international research had improved the community’s knowledge of the Delta strain, with a possible rise in NSW case numbers and hospitalisations to be reflected in future modelling.
The research in question – from the University of Toronto in Canada – found the Delta variant is more than one-and-a-half times more likely to kill and nearly twice as likely to leave a patient in hospital than the Alpha variant.
Earlier this month, the NSW state government released modelling, based on analysis by the Burnet Institute in August that showed Sydney coronavirus hot spots will see up to 2000 cases per day, and by the beginning of November, 560 people would be in intensive care units from Covid-19 alone.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at the time the number of people in intensive care without Covid-19 at any given time was usually about 400.
The state has capacity to treat a total of 1550 ICU patients at the same time.
Prompted by a question from Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, Ms McVernon on Thursday agreed Delta was worse, and that the number of cases and hospitalisations NSW was expecting could go beyond what was expected.
Ms McVernon did however stress that the Doherty Institute’s own strategy was one of minimising case numbers, with the new Delta research not substantially changing that.
“Now, some people see scenarios that produce tables of relative outcomes as predictions … so in that situation you would need to increase those numbers,” Ms McVernon said.
“But, those numbers are really there to compare outcomes to give you a strategy. So in terms of actually mapping … it again brings you back to the situational assessment which is, okay we’ve now updated our understanding of severity, if our objective locally is to keep things within health system capacity, then we need to see how current infections are tracking to our estimates of local burden.”
NSW recorded 1063 new coronavirus cases and six deaths on Thursday.
With Anton Nilsson
Originally published as Doherty expert agrees Delta strain could push NSW hospitalisations higher than initially thought
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